Mumbai: The month-long political impasse in Maharashtra ended dramatically Saturday as BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis was sworn-in as the chief minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)’s Ajit Pawar as the deputy CM.
The developments come only a day after the NCP, Congress and Shiv Sena finalised the name of Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray as the state’s next chief minister.
The President’s Rule was revoked in Maharashtra around 5.47 am Saturday, hours before Fadnavis took oath as the chief minister for a second term. The state was put under President’s Rule on 12 November after the assembly elections held last month delivered a fractured mandate.
In a tweet, however, NCP chief Sharad Pawar clarified that his nephew Ajit’s decision to support the BJP to form the Maharashtra government was the latter’s personal decision and not that of the party.
According to sources, around 30 NCP MLAs have extended support to Ajit.
Sources also said that senior NCP leaders Dhananjay Munde and Sunil Tatkare have supported Ajit.
Sena leader Sanjay Raut, in a press conference Saturday, said, “Ajit Pawar was in the meeting last evening. But he left early and we were told that he is in a meeting with his lawyer. During the meeting he did not look at anyone and his body language indicated that something was not right.”
Only some leaders of the BJP were aware that the President’s Rule in Maharashtra was revoked, facilitating the way for the swearing-in of a new government, said sources.
There has also been talk in political circles that Ajit’s decision is probably linked to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) probe against the Pawars. The ED had in September registered a money laundering case against Sharad, Ajit Pawar, and several other politicians and officials in the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank (MSCB) scam worth around Rs 25,000 crore.
In the meeting held Friday among NCP MLAs, several letters signed by them in support of the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress alliance were taken by Ajit. Sources said that these letters are still with him and are probably being used to indicate that he has the support of many MLAs.
Ajit needs the support of two-thirds of his MLAs to split the NCP. Of the 54 MLAs in the party, he needs the support of about 36.